This important study provides a detailed and in depth analysis of political forces which contributed to the evolution of the agricultural sector in Colombia and to agricultural policy during most of the National Front. In the process it gives much insight into the nature of Colombian society and the accompanying political system.

The author traces the gradual yielding of the traditional more or less feudal system of agriculture in Colombia in favor of capitalist modes of production, and the development of power groups among the laborers and land aspirants. The increasing organization of these latter (including FANAL unions, communist affiliated groups, the usuarios, and guerillas and other militarily oriented groups) coupled with the chronic highly unequal distribution of land leads the author to conclude that the agrarian question is and will remain one of the most problematic for some time, and that Colombia now finds itself at a dangerous crossroads where change of one form or another must be substantial.

The book reflects the author’s broad grasp of Colombian society as well as detailed knowledge of the recent history of the agricultural pressure groups, the political factions, and the government’s agrarian policy. The discussion focuses in turn on the forces of resistance to change (society of agriculturalists, the traditional parties, the executive); reformism (in the parties, certain capitalist producer groups, the army, and elsewhere); the peasant movements; the revolutionary political movements. The unfolding of political forces is enlivened by much detail, which makes the book’s interest as history almost the equal of its value as political science.

In sum, this is by far the best book on the political side of recent agrarian history in Colombia, a must for any student of this area. One qualification: the extent of chronological detail, while often essential to make the arguments persuasive, also makes for hard going at times and means that those looking for a summary statement of the issues will not find it here.